[-empyre-] question about online writing

Gregory Ulmer glue at ufl.edu
Thu Oct 29 10:53:49 EST 2009

adam hyde wrote:
> ...what part of the Networked Book project is not replicating the
> politics and top-down processes of the established publishing industry?
> I see the mechanics as (slightly) different from what most 'publishers'
> use these days. But the fact that you 'use a wiki' or a blog to create a
> collection of long from texts does not seem to me to be tackling
My interest in Networkedbook is not its present form, which is just a 
point of departure, but in its promise of an evolving model for 
collaborative inquiry.  The division of knowledge into ever finer slices 
of specialized expertise is not due to some intrinsic feature of 
"knowledge" but of the nature and limits of literacy.  The organization 
of the university into divisions, schools, departments expresses the 
analytical nature of the literate apparatus.  Everything at one time was 
"philosophy."  Knowledge was divided up in order to make it manageable, 
but then the divisions produced so much information that they had to be 
subdivided etc.  The literate apparatus includes identity formation:  in 
the arts and letters disciplines professionals work as individuals, free 
agents, each pursuing his/her own interests (invisible hand).  The 
sciences have moved to a more collaborative model, and Networkedbook 
could explore the way multiple diverse areas of expertise could be 
syncretized into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. 
   Networkedbook poses the question of what sort of knowledge production 
correlates with the possibilities offered by new media forms, with what 
implications for institutional reorganization of education, and even new 
relationships across the institutions of society and among citizens. 
It would be worth discussing here or somewhere (our month is up!) how 
Networkedbook + Turbulence might experiment with the vision of Mallarme 
(among others), that we really only need one "book," if it is functions 
in the manner of the Internet.  The textmining initiative I mentioned is 
concerned about the millions of books being digitized by  Google et al, 
available for full-text search.  How many books can one read in a lifetime?
  A first step would be to identify areas of redundancy in the archive, 
and eliminate them in our NetScreen.  What parts of the archive are due 
to institutional structures (eliminate those), what parts are due to 
technical support (translate those), and what parts are inherent to 
knowledge (promote those). 
  For example, a touchstone reference in literary study  is Proust's 
scene of involuntary memory,  biting into the madeleine.  I have read 
hundereds of descriptions of that scene embedded in larger 
discussions.   In the wikiwhatever, we just link to the scene.

*Gregory L. Ulmer*
 University of Florida

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